“The Lord said to Abram: ‘Leave your country, your family and your father’s house, for the land that I will show you.’” The call of Abram, an insignificant inhabitant of the prosperous lands bordering the river Euphrates, cannot be understood in isolation. God’s call was indeed addressed to an individual, but through Abram it would reach out to a sinful world. It was an act of pure grace, since neither Abram, nor the family of man, could have claimed God’s friendship for a world that had chosen sin.
At the beginning of Lent the Church invites us to identify ourselves with Abram. We, no more than Abram, deserve to be called by a loving Father. We have sinned again and again, and yet the Father continues to call, inviting us to embark on a journey that will bring us into the presence of his only Son, Christ our crucified and
Abram believed the promise made to him, that he would become the Father of a great nation. We are promised that in Christ we shall become the children of God. The only thing that Abram could offer in return for God’s promise was a trusting faith and a willingness to follow wherever God might lead. It was not without sacrifice. Abram had to leave behind the familiar securities of country, family and his father’s house.
In different ways we find security in a world that we have built for ourselves. We should not be surprised that the Father’s promise challenges us, as it challenged Abram, to leave behind the imagined security of sinful lives. Abram chose to abandon the security of the past to embrace God. We do the same when we repent, when we abandon sinful lives so as to follow Christ.
Abram left everything for a land that God would show him. The Gospel of the Transfiguration reveals the unimaginable dimensions of this promise. “Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone. There in their presence he was transfigured; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light.” There is a wonder in this scene that reached far beyond the details of its telling. In some mysterious way the Apostles glimpsed the depths of the love revealed in Jesus, a love that had always been shared with the Father, a love that they instinctively recognised as their only true belonging. “Lord, it is wonderful for us to be here.”
At the beginning of Lent the scene asks a fundamental question that is often overlooked in daily life. Where, in the deepest sense, do we want our lives to be lived? What is our deepest belonging?
Peter rejoiced to be with his transfigured Lord. That realisation was only the beginning. The journey of discipleship would inevitably lead to the cross and a deepening sense of his own sinfulness. It would be concluded only in the Resurrection. Along that journey Peter would learn that, despite his many protestations, he could so easily deny his Lord. He would discover within himself little appetite for the humility of his master’s suffering. He continued to believe, continued to repent, continued to journey with
Let us pray that this Lent we might glimpse the wonder of Christ, and trust that he will bring us to know ourselves and the power of his Resurrection.